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December 31, 2006

The South Island

First off, sorry y'all that I haven't put up any pics.. all the Internet kiosks/cafes are really strict about that sort of thing. So I haven't been able to download anything off the camera. I promise to put some up when we get back!

So, starting from Wellington: we got on the Interislander ferry on the 27th to head across the Cook Strait. After a fairly uneventful ride between the islands and through Queen Charlotte Sound, we arrived in the port town of Picton. Not that we stayed long: we were on a schedule to pick up Jen's friend Kirsten from the Nelson "International" Airport. We stayed in Richmond, just outside. I don't think it was really much like my hometown, really. After all, one cannot see the Southern Cross from there. While in Nelson/Richmond we checked out the "Centre of NZ" (since recalculated by GPS to be in the harbor, actually) and went to a winery that sold several cases of their wine to "The World". Google "The World" for some more details about this opulent ship. We felt like the wine must be pretty decent, so we got a bottle.

Then it was on to Franz Josef. This was a very satisfying (and scary) part of the trip. You see, we trekked on a glacier, wearing ice crampons on our boots and everything. Silly me, I thought a glacier was flat. But not at the face of it.. we had to go up 200 meters of melting, moving ice/snow. And back down. I felt like we were living up to the extreme billing of NZ. Also took a trip to Lake Mathison so we could see Mt. Cook in reflection; but it didn't work out like that given the clouds. Still cool though.

This morning we headed across the south island through Arthur's Pass, a trip which has been rated one of the world's most scenic. I think we must have taken 60 pictures between the sea and the 900+ meter pass. Some of the Lord of the Rings was shot here (really, was there anywhere in NZ that wasn't in the pic somewhere?). Then it was on down the mountain, through the Canterbury plains to the town of Christchurch.

And that's where we sit tonight. Happy New Year everyone, ~18 hours early!

Posted by The Greatness at 04:37 AM | Comments (0)

December 25, 2006

In the Middle

... of Middle Earth, even.

So we are actually in Wellington right now. Merry christmas everyone!! We are actually almost through Boxing Day, and it will hurt coming back to the other side.

So we spent Christmas here in Wellington as well. Went to the big Te Papa museum yesterday, for pretty much the whole day. It was the only thing open and it was pretty interesting as well. Today we went to the Observatory and the Gardens by riding the cable car.

Taupo went well, we saw Craters of the Moon ( boiling mud is pretty wild) and the Huka Falls. Not really that high a falls, but lots and lots of water force!

Before this ( I seem to be journaling in reverse order) Chris became a Zorbanaut.. which can really only be explained by googling the word 'Zorb'. He said it felt like taking a shower, except on a waterslide, with his eyes closed.

Christmas in NZ is a surreal thing. No "Winter Wonderland" carols or trees to be seen, except in some of the bigger attractions. I suppose since everybody is taking vacation with their kids (it's summer break, after all), nobody has time for the Christmas spirit. We tried to have our own little Christmas anyway ... in space!

Posted by The Greatness at 10:54 PM | Comments (2)

December 21, 2006

First Day in Space

More adventures,

So we spent our first night in space last night, as we picked up our camping van named Mercury.
Yesterday we picked it up and managed to survive driving on the other side of the road through the streets of Auckland, as well as up and down the switchbacks of the Northland.

Went to the Waipu Museum yesterday, about the Scottish people from Nova Scotia that moved to New Zealand. Over 900 of them came... on a five plus month boat ride. Their leader was 70 at the time, and they had lived in St. Anns, NS for 23 years. Wow, things must have been pretty tough for them to make such a decision. (We missed Mr John Hamm, former Premier of NS, by a few hours; we were told he was in that morning.)

Today we saw a live Kiwi bird (about the size of a chicken) and we went down the glow worm cave in Waitomo. The boat ride through the cave was like looking at the night sky in some alien world.

Pretty night to work with so far and we have gone grocery shopping so we can avoid eating out every meal -- that's part of the reason to camp, after all. Weather is cool, with rain sometimes and then a bit of sun. Way better than snow! It's the longest day of the year in the Southern Hemisphere. Maybe that's why we've seen so few Christmas decorations..

Tomorrow we're headed to the volcanic central area of the north island (Rotorua and Lake Taupo). We'll tread carefully.

Posted by The Greatness at 02:20 AM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2006

Greetings from New Zealand!

From the desk of The Sweetness..

"We Made It!

The Greatness and the Sweetness are offically in New Zealand for their visit. After months of planning and hours and hours of flying, we are here.

Flights over we actually pretty good all things considering. No snow in Halifax meant no delays, which was good as we had no extra time in Toronto. Sweetness was running for the gate but we both made it in time ( security decided she was the lucky one to be searched 15 mintues before the plane was suppose to leave). Hung out in LA with the Greatness's sister ( thanks J for the sight seeing tour and for lunch, see you again in a few weeks).

We both actually slept on the plane a bit to Fiji and arrived tired but hanging in. Just from the air and the airport, Fiji looks really, really nice...and it is really, really expensive. That $3.50CAN ice cream drumstick we had between the two of us was good, but wow.

The last flight actually found us in NZ. we reached the hotel about 3pm NZ time and let the parents know by phone that we had made it. We had a three/four hour nap and woke up to eat supper and try to stay away until 10 pm to work into NZ time. Supper was great at a Chinse place here in downtown Auckland. We walked around a bit and went to bed at ten. Woke up at four...but didn't really get up and around until 5:30 ( which seemed like lunchtime to us). Today we have spent at the Auckland Museum for the most part.

Observations so far,

Everything ( food at least) is expensive!

It's nice to be in a foreign country that still speaks English."

Posted by The Greatness at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)